In his new book, I’m A Christian…Now What?, Aaron Armstrong delivered a blend of the usual and unique guide for the new believers. Having finished it, I can say I haven’t read something like this.
I reached out to him to talk about his family, John Piper, creativity and of course his book.
To add a twist, I dug some interesting IG photos from Aaron’s account and asked him to try and fill some stories into those photos.
Have your kids read one of your books?
My kids have read at least parts of one of my books, “Epic: the Story that Changed the World“. They acted as my test readers on that one, which was really kind.
Any tips that you can give to encourage kids or even adults to have this habit of reading?
When it comes to reading for pleasure, I think there are three key pieces of advice that are relevant for any age:
First, be willing to try new things, but don’t be afraid to drop what you’re not enjoying after a reasonable amount of time.
Second, don’t be afraid to revisit a book you didn’t enjoy. Sometimes the second, third, or even seventh try might be the one that causes it to click for you.
Third, find friends who love reading, whose judgment you trust, and get their input. Ask them questions about what they read and why they like it and whether or not you might as well. (This is part of the reason why I love making podcasts about books—I want to help people discover books they might enjoy by sharing ones I enjoyed).
In your new book, I’m A Christian…Now What? you talk about the you and your wife’s story of coming to Christ and your relationship that leads to your marriage in Chapter 6. Was it easy for you to ask your wife to include those stories in the book? What was her reaction knowing you’ll include it?
It was easy to talk to her about what I wanted to share in the book, for sure. These are aspects of our lives we’ve never tried to hide, so there wasn’t any fear or anxiety about any of it. It’s all just a part of our story. I think the only way she would have been disappointed in any of it would have been if I had downplayed these aspects—or worse, if I had sensationalized them. But because my desire was to be honest and to help people who might be having a similar experience, she had no concerns.
How do you encourage one another in prayer, reading the Bible and worshiping at church?
One of the things I love about where we’re at right now in our lives is that it’s not a challenge to encourage one another to attend our weekly worship gathering. It’s an expectation (in a good way). We love the church we’re a part of, so it’s easy. As for Bible reading and prayer, that usually just comes from talking together. We take opportunities to pray together as they come. We encourage one another by reminding each other of something we’ve read in the Bible during recent days.
In what ways did Emily involve herself in the process of writing the book?
Primarily in two ways. First, with prayer and encouragement. She has always been unbelievably supportive of these kinds of efforts. She’s been my chief encourager from day one, and I’m grateful for that. Second, by giving me space to write, especially as my deadline came near. She protected my time insomuch as it was within her power to do so, and helped me to stay focused so that I could write.
Are you a DC or Marvel fan and why DC? 😁😁😁
I have always been a DC guy.
Part of that is I just love the characters. They appeal to me more than many of Marvel’s. But what I have always loved is that it seems to be much more of a writer’s publisher. It’s the place where Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and so many others really found their voices because they had supportive editors and the freedom to tell the kind of stories they wanted to. That’s a big deal to me.
I really appreciate the chapter about creativity. I feel like giving a standing ovation on that part of the book. For those who haven’t read the book yet, can you tell some backstory on why you included that in the book?
Everything I included in the book was related to an issue or question I had when I was a new believer. That included trying to address my relationship to reading, writing and creative expression as a whole. From the consumer side, I’ve always been a lover of music, movies, and books, and have generally always had pretty high—although sometimes erring on the side of pretentious—standards.
After becoming a Christian, I needed to figure out how my faith was going to affect that, and not just being less pretentious. I needed to understand how my faith would not only what I chose to listen to, watch, or read, but why I did. From a creator’s perspective, it’s much the same: I needed to consider how my faith would shape the work I was interested in doing of any type.
That’s been a journey I’ve been on for nearly 20 years, and I’m honestly still working it out to some degree. But the one conclusion I’ve come to that hasn’t changed in this time is that I genuinely believe that creativity is an act of worship. We worship in expressing our creativity, and we worship in enjoying the creative efforts of others. And because of that, we should want to create and enjoy the best of what humans can make.
I’m so thankful to God that there are wonderful creatives that met and enjoyed their work. I wrote an article about it last year. What areas in the Christian creatives that you enjoy and what other areas you would like to explore?
I’m always on the lookout for good artists, whether their work is explicitly Christian or not. Jason Fabok, an artist I mentioned in the book, has been working in comics for more than a decade now, and does incredible work (he’s also a fellow Canadian). One of my favorite authors at the moment is K.B. Hoyle, who writes primarily middle grade and young adult fiction. Her recent book, Orion and the Starborn, hit me the same way that Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga did. As far as musicians are concerned, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen produced by Citizens who can definitely hold their own with the best of mainstream music. But I’m always down with a good recommendation if you’ve got one.
Did you have a “fanboying” moment here with Pastor John?
Not even a little. I greatly respect Pastor John and I’ve met him a few times over the years in different contexts. He’s a kind man, and it’s easy to see that the whole weird Christian celebrity thing makes him uncomfortable. So when I have interacted with him, I do what I do with most people, including those who are a little better known in different spheres: treat him like a normal person.
I know that we all have this Christian leader that we look up to. In what area in your Christian life John Piper had made a big impact?
Wild hand gestures, without a doubt. 😆
I think where I’ve seen John Piper’s influence has been mostly felt in seeing how truth and genuine affection aren’t in conflict. That the truths we believe shouldn’t just affect our minds, but our hearts as well. That is something that I think we too often miss in our effort to put our faith to work.
And the last photo is your first book now translated in Spanish.
Between your first book and your new one, I’m A Christian…Now What? what are the lessons or discipline in writing that you learn along the way that are very beneficial to you as a writer?
I think one of the key truths that I learned early on as a writer that has proved to be true is that the best spiritually formative writing comes from lived experience. Awaiting A Savior was written out of lived experience—wrestling with what the Bible said about poverty while I worked for an organization that was (and is) committed to alleviating it in the lives of children. It came from a need to know for myself first and foremost. This book came from reflecting on the messy early years of my faith; all my staggering, stumbling, and crawling toward Jesus. The questions I wrestled with. The mistakes I made. There have been so many times where I’ve wished I could have a time machine, or that God would allow me to ever so briefly be able to exist outside of the confines of linear time just so that I could stop myself from making a mistake. But he hasn’t, and I can’t. But what I can do is share what I’ve learned along the way so that others can benefit.
Thank you Aaron for your time! Kindly invite our readers to check your new book “I am A Christian…Now What?”
Absolutely. “I’m a Christian—Now What? A Guide to Your New Life with Christ” is available everywhere you buy books, including Amazon. There’s also a free discussion guide to use in a one-on-one discussion or as part of a larger group available for you on my website.
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